2010 South Dakota Special Olympics Truck Convoy and Show

Have you ever seen a truck convoy? It is an amazing site to see hundreds even thousands of trucks all rolling on the highway, one after another.

A convoy is a group of vehicles or ships traveling together for mutual support. Truck drivers help organizations out all the time, with either donations or transports – anyway they can – especially when kids are involved.

Special Olympics – the first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago in 1968. Anne McGlone Burke, a physical education teacher with the Chicago Park District, began with the idea for a one-time Olympic-style athletic competition for people with special needs.

The World’s Largest Truck Convoy is a one-day celebration that helps raise money for Special Olympics. All trucks entering the World’s Largest Truck Convoy — semi-trucks, truck/trailer combinations, large trucks, low-boys, dump trucks, flat beds, buses, large tow trucks, large box trucks, etc. — must be of 10-GVW or larger. (Note that hazardous materials are not permitted.) Note that Truck Convoy registrations are accepted from companies (one or more trucks) or individuals (participation levels are detailed in the registration packets).

The convoys are held in different states to allow for more people to be able to get involved. One such state is South Dakota, which has been participating in the Special Olympics Truck Convoy for seven years. This years convoy will be held September 24 & 25 at W.H. Lyons Fairgrounds Sioux Falls, SD. Marty Ellis is one of the organizers of the South Dakota Special Olympics Truck Convoy and Show. I got in touch with Marty and asked if he would answer some questions about it, and he agreed.

When were the Special Olympics convoys started?Corporal Norm Schneiderhan, a deputy sheriff from Orange County, Florida, organized the 2001 event, which raised $17,000. Ninety-seven trucks participated in the convoy.

Who started the convoys?Corporal Norm Schneiderhan started the original Convoy. Here, in South Dakota we started in 2003 by Mike Currier, Russ Ronk, and Dan Moore.

How long does it take to organize a convoy like this?We actually start the morning after the Convoy for what we are doing the next year.

Can people not in the convoy donate to a particular convoy? YES everybody can go to www.worldslargesttruckconvoy.com and get the particulars on each of the different convoy’s or contact their local Special Olympics office and let them know you would like to donate or volunteer for their truck convoy.

How long has South Dakota been involved in the convoys?This will be our 7th year.

Do you have any “special” memories of a particular convoy?A few really stand out. One when we decided to have the athletes give medals to the drivers for the first time. We had a lot of truck drivers with tears in their eyes.

Another is when one of our volunteers (Jerry Seaman) received the athletes choice award in our truck show. For years, he had been the one to get the athletes together to bring them out to look at the trucks and decide which one they liked the best. Of course he always steered them away from his truck. We decided to have a Special Olympics official do that and Jerry won.

The other was the first time we had one of our athletes (Mason Ivers) sing the National-Anthem. That is an emotional song to begin with, but when a Special Olympics Athlete does it, it really gives Special meaning to it.

I want to thank you Marty for taking the time to answer a few questions for us, and for doing this for Special Olympics I am sure it is very appreciated.

Do you want to add anything else?Different States do their convoy’s different. We have a Texas Holdem Tournament the night before with a trip for 2 to Laughlin, NV. at the Riverside Resort. The actual day of the convoy we also have a Truck Show where all the drivers participating have a chance to win trophies, and prizes, along with raffles and a live auction.

We have our own website at www.sdconvoy.org with all the updated information. All of the Convoys are always looking for private and company sponsors and volunteers. People can donate money, items for raffles, prizes, or the auction. They can also talk with the organizers about having items placed in the goody bags or offer services (like, karaoke, health screenings, etc.)

Each year I have a painting commissioned for our convoy. This years painting is based on Leland Martin’s song “Highway Angels” the paintings and prints are done by David M. Porter (www.artdmp.com)

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